The awful year at work finally over. I’ve settled into a less toe-curling job. I've even started to float by drinking water and dropping liquid tears. Losing weight is a losing endeavor, but I go to the gym—occasionally—and lift weights in the kitchen instead of noshing on cheese curds. I stopped yoga but don't know why. Perhaps one good habit must be sacrificed for another. Summer fruits are a reviving joy. The weather has lightened up and so have I, but I know summer solstice signifies return of the dark. My niece almost died last week. My cat reminds me to laugh once in a while.
What I am reading:
What Is Not Beautiful, Poems by Adeeba Shahid Talukder (The Glass Chapbook Series, June 2018)
This small book of poems can be read in order and in one sitting, a process I like to apply to all books of poems, but am not always able to. There is this joy with chapbooks, when good–as this one certainly is–in that their concentrated effect can be mesmerizing.
Starting with the picture on the cover, a small girl looking at herself in the mirror with a look that is hard to decipher. Wise and knowing? or tough and jaded? Compare this to the author’s picture on the back cover and you have the same face, the same expression, the same wonderment that presages the narrative of the book. When
He does not see, nor does the garden, anything apart from her beauty: the way she spreads her petals to touch the air. They do not see the small tears in her fabric. They do not see she could be mad, too.
The word mad– as angry, as insane– is transformed into insanely angry at the transient, and therefore cheapened, meaning of the beauty of a woman’s face, of “garlands of roses, jasmines”, of grandchildren who “do not need you”, of being
beautiful then, if only for a moment: there is a mirror where my nose is holy.
Although Talukder appears to be speaking of temporal beauty, these lyrical poems touch
very deeply on so much more– fragility, transience, love, how life and distance create scars and our dependence on others–living and dead and those to come– for our self image. Finally she answers her own questions with this truth
nothing is as it seems, you will never know if you are beautiful.